ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA – SIX-HOUR REPORT

Jan 26 2020 Randall Shinn 2020, Daytona, Daytona, News Comments Off on ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA – SIX-HOUR REPORT

IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA – SIX-HOUR REPORT
CORVETTE RACING DRIVER QUOTES
JANUARY 25, 2020

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2020) – Corvette Racing sped its way through the opening quarter of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Saturday as the new mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette C8.R completed its first six hours of racing competition. The pair of Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette C8.Rs were inside the top-five of GT Le Mans (GTLM) with 18 hours left in the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Nicky Catsburg, making his first start with Corvette Racing, ran as high as second in class ahead of the six-hour mark in the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R. Contact with a slower car, however, sent Catsburg off-track just past the start/finish line but with no lasting damage. Teammate Antonio Garcia, who started the race, rejoined just past the six-hour mark in fifth place.

That put the No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette of Tommy Milner as the team’s highest-running entry at the quarter-mark. He ran fourth, the same spot from which he started, following stints by Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fässler in the first six hours.

The pace of the Corvette in the opening hours is an encouraging start for the mid-engine C8.R – the program’s first such effort since its debut in 1999.

Corvette Racing;s next update will follow the 12-hour mark Sunday morning.

TALK ABOUT THE OPENING PART OF THE RACE.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R:
"I don’t think we can complain. I had a good start and ran the first stint with both Porsches. We were learning where we are strong and where they are strong. I think in the second stint we had a shifting issue that took me awhile to get going again. It is still very, very early in the race. We are learning and definitely need to improve things… learning pressures and things like that for adjusting. Up to this point, we were always guessing what the new Corvette would be like over a few stints. We are reacting and being a little more productive as we gain experience. There are many hours to go. If you’re going to make mistakes, this is the time to do it."

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: "We had flip-flop stints there to start. My first was a struggle there with car balance, and we made a good change at the first stop to make the Corvette better for the second stint. As Antonio said, we are learning all the time. The track conditions are warmer they have been all weekend. In general, I’m happy with how it’s going so far. We have a little bit of work to do for sure. We’re losing a little bit more time than we’d like on out-laps. The guys are working hard to figure out where we are losing it and where we can pick it up. Pace-wise, we are about where we expected today… close to what we saw in practice."

CAN YOU REALLY NOTICE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN THE PREVIOUS CORVETTE AND WHAT YOU HAVE NOW?
Garcia:
"The driving style changes for sure. It also changes how you approach the stint. You need to adapt yourself not only for a lap but for 30 laps. You need to know when you can push, when you need to save the car and save tires. We are still at that point of learning. Looking at how close GTLM is, we need to nail that quickly. We may not be just at the right spot now but I think we are close. Let’s see. Hopefully a few yellows would help us resettle things."
Milner: “The C8.R for sure feels different. There are lots of things about it that are better than the previous generation. For example, we’re sitting more centrally located in the car so when it snaps out, you feel that it and that feedback gets back to us through the driver’s seat that little bit quicker where we can naturally react. Sometimes with the C7.R and sitting so close to that rear axle, the car is sliding all the time. You find yourself overcorrecting sometimes when it’s not necessary. I’ve found with the Corvette C8.R that generally when it is sliding a little bit that my natural instinct to correct that slide always comes at the right time. You’re not second-guessing yourself at times like you could do with C7.R So in that sense, the C8.R is much nicer to drive for sure. The little details that you get with a newer car are there. The driver comfort factor is better, the new A/C system is working well. The layout of the cockpit is improved on what we developed for C7.R. There are always little small gains it seems like, but there’s a much better jump in aspects like feel and sound. I’d say before the race we were all comfortable with what to expect with this new Corvette. Put us in the race situation obviously, now we’re finding the little details that need attention and we need to improve."

IS IT EXPECTED BY CORVETTE RACING THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO CONTINUE TO LEARN ABOUT THE CAR AND DOES THAT MEAN YOU MIGHT HAVE TO MAKE MAJOR ADJUSTMENTS AT NIGHT?
Garcia: "I hope we don’t have to make major adjustments. We are learning from every time in the car. In the second stint I found something not perfectly right so that is why I am saying we are reacting to what the car is doing instead of knowing. In the past we would know exactly how the previous Corvette would react and how the track would develop, so you would be way more reactive to that and making the change before even feeling what the car would do. We are still in the phase where we need to find how this car will react to different temperatures at night; that is why I feel like we are a little bit reacting to what the car is doing instead of knowing. But that is what experience gets you."

DOES THE WARMER TEMPERATURE IMPACT THE CAR MORE THAN EXPECTED?
Milner: "Talking to Ricky Taylor, he said that the wind was different today and they noticed it considerably more with their cars today. I didn’t notice a huge difference. The track plays a major role especially when track temperatures are higher, which it is now, and that oftentimes magnifies some issues you might have in the car balance-wise. We found that pretty quickly with our car. We had a bit of an issue of getting the power down so we were able to make a change to address 90 percent of that. Again, as the track develops and as Antonio says, this team has such a huge history here with the previous generation cars, it’s almost second-nature of what the track does and what to expect. We are definitely still building that knowledge base and that’s obviously why we go racing – to learn. That is the goal here is to learn as much as we can… make the cars go as fast as we possibly can and that will hopefully get us to the front.

IS THERE ANY PRESSURE AS WE HAVE SEEN WITH OTHER TEAMS IN THE PAST TO WIN RIGHT AWAY HERE AND LE MANS?
Milner:
"The feeling is that with all the testing and development we have done with this new Corvette C8.R, we are here to win the race. I wouldn’t say that has been a stated goal, but it is sort of an unstated goal that the goal here today and tomorrow is to win the race. So we are doing everything we can to do that. Obviously this one and Le Mans are two big races of the year so we are putting a lot of effort into having good results here.
Garcia: "Every time we race we go for the win. That is the goal of the No. 3 and the No. 4. This is the first year and the first race for us, and we will go every race for the goal. I know being a new car, it won’t be in our favor, but every lap we produce, we have more experience so come Le Mans time we will have experience enough to fight everyone for the win."

OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: "That first stint was interesting. I was trying to figure out how hard we could push and look at the rear tire life. That was a challenge during the first run. The second stint was a little better. I couldn’t maybe push as hard as I wanted to because I wanted to look after the rears. It was going fine but I was really trying to save everything before kicking it in for the second half of the run. About halfway through we had some kind of electrical glitch where we lost everything in the car for about 10 or 15 seconds. As I rolled all the way through Turn Five, it just turned back on again. That certainly wasn’t ideal but had to get myself going again. We are obviously find things and discovering things to work out some of the small issues and what tire (compound) will work with the car. I enjoyed the run, but there are some things we need to fix."

JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: "It was definitely an enjoyable first stint with Corvette Racing. I was pretty nervous before I got in because I was watching the coverage and seeing how close the racing is in GTLM. Once I got in and strapped in, the first couple of laps were a little nerve-wracking with the Ferrari right behind, but I was able to gap it pretty quickly and settle into our own pace. At this point I think that is all we can focus on – running our own race program. The C8.R is pretty easy to drive. I think it has pace and we are able to maintain the gap to the leader. Just keep chipping at it through the night.
"The biggest thing for me (compared to driving a prototype) was getting used to the traffic again. I was a little sporadic with the LMP2 cars about when not to block them and when to block them. I am pretty sure I lost a few seconds here and there. I have to get used to that again. We are four hours in to a 24-hour race. I didn’t take any risk so we will push on through the night and hopefully we will be in position tomorrow."

NICKY CATSBURG, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: "The car feels good. We were still finding our rhythm in the race, but I feel quite comfortable in the car. I think we are quite competitive at the moment with the competitors around us. The Porsches are very strong in the infield, maybe a little bit stronger than us. It was a good stint. I was finding my way in the Corvette. Getting by (Nick) Tandy was obviously cool but quite useless at that moment in the race. Unfortunately on my very last lap – I was going to box the next lap – I got together with an Aston Martin; I just viewed the video and honestly it looks like it might be more on me than him. We kinda moved into Turn One together. He clipped my right rear but I don’t know if he could do something about it, but we both spun. We don’t seem to have any damage, but we lost everything that we had gained. Antonio is back out and he is doing good times. I wish it didn’t happen, but it did. We will take it from there and next time hopefully we stay out of contact with others."